Disrupting graduate recruitment

31 October 2018
Josie Klafkowska & Magdalena Mielczarek
Frink_Cognifide_2016_HeaderImages_0117


In their June 2018 article about the changing face of graduate recruitment, HR Magazine talk about ‘youthquake’, the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the year for 2017. It’s defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’. In the context of grad recruitment, it sums up the impact of the new socio-economic, technological and political landscape that is changing how graduates view their future and what they want from a prospective employer.


The Gen Z effect
As Gen Z comes of age and enters the workforce, we’re seeing an entirely new set of expectations coming through. Graduates are generally prioritising lifestyle over money and so are looking for organisations that will offer them a degree of flexibility, whether that’s opportunities to work from home or even part-time working that will enable them to pursue other projects in their downtime.


They are looking for organisations with purpose, they care more about the morals and ethics of organisations and they want to make a difference. So a degree of autonomy within an organisation matters and traditional hierarchies are seen as old-fashioned. All of this means that companies are having to rethink how they attract young talent, never more so when trying to attract the cream of the crop of graduates.


Career Start Up
Seeing this wind of change in younger Millennials, we shook up our recruitment model 2 years ago with the establishment of our Career Start Up programme in Poznan, Poland. Poznan is the home of our Engineering Centre that employs 300 talented and highly-skilled software developers, many of whom come to us from the fantastic, tech-focused, local Universities. Rather than waiting for students to graduate, Career Start Up offers them summer internships with the opportunity to remain with us as trainees, on a flexible, part-time basis, while they finish their studies. It’s a chance for us to get to know future talent and understand their skills and fit within the company before they even graduate; all of which is more important to us than their ultimate academic achievement.


This year Career Start Up took in 39 students, all of whom have now graduated from the programme, with 32 deciding to stay at Cognifide to finish their studies and pursue their career. The intake is a focus for us year round as it represents a 10% increase in our staffing levels.


The recruitment process
Recruitment begins in earnest in March each year when we attend job fairs at
Poznań University of Technology and Adam Mickiewicz University. This year, our technical experts  - most of whom are Career Start Up alumni - talked to hundreds of interested students, resulting in 360 applications, a 20% rise on previous years. A wider awareness campaign produced a further 500 applicants who were then whittled down through 160 technical tasks, 120 telephone interviews and 80 face-to-face interviews to a cohort of 39 interns.


Although interns begin their journey at Cognifide working on internal projects - including our own brand new website that we’ll be launching at the end of November - they quickly get to join project teams and contribute to commercial projects, as they observed, ‘as an equal part of the team’.


To ensure we’re getting the experience right for our interns, we solicit feedback throughout. This year they called out our friendly recruitment process and supportive atmosphere - a diverse but complementary team -  as real positives. They also praised the knowledge and approach of their mentors.


It’s testament to the programme that 32 students will remain with us this year. They’ll work with us around 20 hours a week as they finish their studies. Not only does it give them an income but it also helps them transition smoothly from education to business. They all have flexible schedules and we make it as easy as we can for them to continue to learn but work at the same time.


Nurturing young talent in this way means that we have access to some of the brightest future talent in our industry. With the feedback that we’ve received it would appear that it works both ways. Many of the larger corporate institutions are changing the way they recruit graduates to reflect this seismic shift in expectation. It feels good to ride the crest of this new wave.


We’ll be recruiting for our 2019 intake from March 2019. Stay in touch by subscribing to our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn for updates.